One of the lesser-known new features in iOS 10.3 is the ability for third-party apps to offer alternative home screen icons, and today the first major apps have been updated for these new capabilities, reports TechCrunch. Both MLB.com At Bat and NHL now provide the ability for users to change the default home screen icon to reflect their favourite team’s logo. Both apps will prompt the user initially to select an icon to use when first re-entering the app or setting up their favourite teams for the first time, however users can change the icon to another team at any time from the app’s settings. Interestingly, for whatever reason icons don’t yet appear to be available for all teams (sorry, Leafs fans).
Apple has pulled back the over-the-air update to iOS 10.3 for iPhone 5 and 5c devices without giving any reason, AppleInsider reports. The update was available for a few hours before mysteriously disappearing, despite there being no noted outcry of users who had tried and failed to install the update on the devices. The update can still be installed through the standard process using iTunes, and seems to function fine on an iPhone 5c.
In a related development, The Apple Post has discovered that the beta version of iOS 10.3.2 appears to end support for devices with 32-bit processors — like the iPhone 5 and 5c. The beta only contains restore images for 64-bit devices, hinting at the possibility that 32-bit devices are about to lose support. Apple announced back in 2014 that new apps or app updates would have to support 64-bit processors, and recent speculation has swirled around iOS 11 ending support for 32-bit devices. A warning dialog discovered by developers working with the iOS 10.3 beta stated that apps that have not been updated to include 64-bit support “will not work with future versions of iOS.” Given the new findings in the iOS 10.3.2 beta, the change could come sooner than expected. If so, the 4th generation iPad would also be unsupported as it features a 32-bit processor.
Apple’s most recent Supplier Responsibility Report includes a buried connection to an automotive and mobility supplier and may hint at the company acquiring parts for its not-so-secret Project Titan car endeavor, AppleInsider reports. The report includes Bosch as a supplier, which is understandable given that the company produces the barometric sensor for the iPhone 6s, but the facility listed — located in Reutlingen, Germany — is specifically dedicated to research and development on products related to “mobility enhancement,” including automotive devices and wheelchairs. Apple is said to have scaled back Project Titan to focus more on the software and hardware to make cars self-driving rather than building a car from scratch, and it’s still a mystery what types of components the company is buying from the Bosch facility in Germany.
Apple is cracking down on the practice of developers putting “free” in the name of their apps to set them apart from other competing apps, VentureBeat reports. While Apple’s developer guide has long discouraged app makers from making such a blatant move, the company is now outright rejecting apps that make any mention of their price in the name or within screenshots. Submitting an app with “free” in its title now returns the following error message: “Your app’s name, icons, screenshots, or previews to be displayed on the App Store include references to your app’s price, which is not considered a part of these metadata items. Please remove any references to your app’s price from your app’s name, including any references to your app being free or discounted. If you would like to advertise changes to your app’s price, it would be appropriate to include this information in the app description.” Existing apps with “free” in their names are still available on the App Store and seem unaffected, but it’s possible that future updates will be rejected if the name isn’t changed to move into compliance with the new policy. Apple confirmed the change but offered no further comment.
Apple Pay has gone live in Taiwan, making the island nation the 14th country to adopt the mobile payment system. Users can now add MasterCard and Visa cards issued by Cathay United Bank, CTBC Bank, E.SUN Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Taishin International Bank, Taipei Fubon Bank and Union Bank of Taiwan. The China Post reports that The Breeze Center, Far Eastern Department Stores, Sogo, Carrefour and PXMart are among the businesses allowing Apple Pay to be used at all locations. FamilyMarts throughout the country are also jumping on the bandwagon, but currently only allow purchases from users with Taishin International Bank cards, planning to open up sales to those with cards from CTBC Bank, Cathay United Bank and E.SUN Bank in July. Apple Pay faces stiff competition from several existing mobile payment options in the country, as well as Samsung Pay and Google Pay, “which have both been approved by Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Committee, will reportedly be launching in the country in May.” To drive up interest, several stores are offering promotional events, like Breeze Center’s off of a NT$100 coupon for those spending at least NT$399 on any Thursday of the month.
Only one day after the public release of iOS 10.3, Apple has already rolled out a new iOS 10 beta to its registered developers. The first new beta, interestingly numbered iOS 10.3.2, has a build number of 14F5065b and according to the release notes includes little other than fixes for SiriKit car commands. New betas of watchOS 3.2.2 and tvOS 10.2.1 were also released to developers today, with similarly sparse release notes indicating only bug fixes and security improvements.
A new blog post from Barron’s suggests Apple is still working on a cellular version of the Apple Watch and is considering creating a hybrid USB-C/Lightning connector to be rolled out in iPhones as early as 2018. After a trip through Asia meeting with members of Apple’s supply chain, analyst Christopher Rolland said the USB-C won’t replace the Lightning jack in 2017’s iPhone line up, but that his contacts “believe Apple may be creating an interoperable hybrid that mixes the best of both technologies.” And while Apple is still working out the battery life and size problems related to delivering a cellular Apple Watch after failing to get one working for 2017, Rolland said the next version will include a SIM card to allow it to make calls independent of the iPhone and provide the ability to sync up with the company’s AirPods.
Urbanears has announced its entry into the Wi-Fi speaker market with a new lineup of Connected Speakers supporting Bluetooth, AirPlay, ChromeCast, and Spotify Connect for wireless music streaming. The first speakers to be released in the company’s new lineup are Stammen ($350) and Baggen ($450), featuring a minimalistic design in two different sizes; Stammen incorporates two 3/4” neodymium dome tweeters and a 4” woofer, and is intended for small to mid-sized spaces like bedrooms and studio apartments, while its larger sibling, Baggen is suited to larger spaces like patios and open-floor-plan homes, with its two 2.5” full-range drivers and a 5.25” woofer. Both models are individually wrapped in acoustically transparent fabric, available in six different colors, and also include multi-room and solo room capabilities, allowing them to be combined into a multi-room system with a different mood set to each room, or grouped together for synchronized listening. The on-speaker controls also reflect the minimalist design, with two knobs that can be pushed or turned to pause and resume playback, change modes, adjust volume, or select from up to seven Spotify or Internet Radio presets. An Urbanears Connected companion app will also be available to take users through the set up process and manage presets, speaker groupings, and equalizer settings. Urbanears’ new Connected Speakers will be available on Mar. 30 from Urbanears.com.
Apple has added the ability for developers to reply to reviews, finally giving app creators an outlet to respond to user critiques. Developers can now respond to any review — no matter when it was written — and after an Apple moderator approves the reply, the user will be notified of the response. After that, the user will be given the option to update their review, and then the developer can also update their response, providing a way for both sides to discuss (or argue over) any concerns. No matter how many times the response is edited, only the most recent version will be displayed on each review, and Apple is still moderating all posts to maintain some sense of decorum.
Despite the release of an updated 9.7” iPad model last week, multiple sources are suggesting that the much-rumoured 10.5” iPad Pro may still be just around the corner. A new report in Forbes cited IHS Markit analyst Rhoda Alexander indicating that the production of the new 10.5” iPad Pro model is expected to commence this month, although she noted that an April launch “still looks somewhat tentative.” This is largely due to the expectation of limited initial production, but Alexander suggests that Apple could do a limited initial launch in a few countries as the company has sometimes done in the past, expanding further “as volume allows.”
Along with the release of iOS 10.3 earlier today, Apple has also updated its iWork suite of productivity apps with several new features, including the ability to open password-protected documents in each app using Touch ID and format text as superscript of subscript and change text background color. Pages 3.1 also allows users to bookmark document sections, use LaTeX and MathML notation, and import and export RTF documents. Numbers 3.1 improves the editing experience for entering data and formulas, adds an action menu for quick access to common tasks, and allows users to add current or historical stock information in spreadsheets. In Keynote 3.1 slide masters and backgrounds can now be changed up, and a new presentation rehearsal view shows current slide, presenter notes, and timer on a single screen.
Apple today released tvOS 10.2 for the Apple TV, adding improvements to scrolling behaviour, support for cross-device movie rentals, and improvements to the Apple TV Remote iOS app. The new “rent anywhere” feature debuted last week in iTunes 12.6 and in iOS 10.3 earlier today, now allows users to rent a movie in from iTunes on their Mac or PC or on their iPhone and iPad and watch it on their Apple TV. When scrolling in a long list, an alphabetical selector will now appear at the right side of the TV screen to allow users to scroll more quickly to a section of the list.
Apple has publicly released watchOS 3.2 for the Apple Watch, adding the long-rumoured Theater Mode feature along with SiriKit to allow developers to integrate watchOS apps with Siri. The new Theater Mode feature, which can be enabled from the Control Center, allows users to mute the sound and disable “Wake Screen on Wrist Raise” with a single button, thereby preventing the Watch from lighting up automatically when the wrist is raised. Haptic notifications are still received unless the user also enabled Do Not Disturb, and the screen can still be lit up manually by tapping on it or pressing the Digital Crown; Apple Watch Series 2 users can also still use the Digital Crown to discreetly peek at their Watch screen.
After a significant number of beta releases, Apple has finally released iOS 10.3 to the public today, featuring a new “Find My AirPods” option along with several improvements to Siri and CarPlay along with some other more minor changes and fixes. “Find My AirPods” allows iOS 10.3 users to user the “Find My iPhone” app to view the last reported location of their AirPods as well as playing a loud sound on one or both AirPods to help locate them. Siri in iOS 10.3 gains support for payment apps, scheduling with ride booking apps, checking car status with automaker apps, and Cricket sports scores. CarPlay users will also gain the ability to quick access recently used apps from the CarPlay screen, as well as several improvements to the Apple Music experience. As expected, iOS 10.3 also adds the cross-device movie rental capabilities debuted in iTunes 12.6 last week, a new unified view for iCloud and Apple ID account information within the Settings app, a “Report Junk” feature for dealing with iCloud Calendar spam, and several other improvements to the Home, Maps, and Podcasts apps.
Wells Fargo has announced a plan to allow customers to use Apple Pay instead of their debit card for withdrawals at some ATMs by the end of the year. The bank currently has a method for using its mobile app to get an 8-digit code for cardless access, but later this year will be rolling out access for NFC-enabled phones to be used instead of a card at more than 5,000 of its 13,000 ATMs nationwide. Once the feature is live, the customer will be able to simply open Apple Pay and hold the phone near any NFC-enabled ATM terminal. The ATM will authenticate the device just as it would the customer’s ATM card and then request a PIN to complete the transaction.
Apple is reportedly “stepping up” its investment in AR glasses, the Financial Times reports. After more than a year with a team exploring whether producing a “head-worn” device is viable, people with knowledge of the process said the company is devoting more resources to move its “science project towards a consumer product.” The sources said AR has overtaken the company’s secretive “Project Titan” car endeavor as Apple’s top priority for its next big product launch. While Apple’s chief designer Jony Ive told the New Yorker he viewed the user’s face as the “wrong place” to implement the technology, CEO Tim Cook said when done right, AR has the potential to produce something so fundamentally life-changing that “we will wonder, when it does, how we lived without it. Kind of how we wonder how we lived without our phones today.”
A Beijing court has overturned a previous decision that Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus infringed on the patent rights of Chinese company Baili, the South China Morning Post reports. Last May the Beijing Intellectual Property Office ruled in favor of Baili’s claim that the iPhones copied the design of that company’s 100C smartphone, but Apple was allowed to continue selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus while the appeal worked through the courts. On Friday, Beijing’s Intellectual Property Court ruled that the iPhone 6 has features that “completely change the effect of the entire product ... and both phones are easily distinguishable in the eyes of consumers.” Since filing the lawsuit against Apple in 2014, Baili has completely collapsed, with phone calls to the company ringing unanswered, the company’s websites gone and visits to its registered addresses turning up no company offices. [via 9to5Mac]
Supplier TSMC is already preparing to start production of the A11 chip expected to land in Apple’s next round of iPhones, Chinese-language site Economic Daily News reports. The company is Apple’s sole supplier of the CPUs for its new devices, and is expected to begin building the components next month in order to reach 50 million units by July. Apple split its A9 chip orders between both Samsung and TSMC, but a number of reports claimed the TSMC version of the A9 provided significantly better battery life than the Samsung version in at least some benchmark tests. The actual specifications of the A11 chip are still unknown, but TSMC is expected to use the its new 10nm manufacturing process to produce them. The company has already showed it can use the process for large-volume production, creating chips for “MediaTek and HiSilicon Technologies in the first quarter of 2017.” [via DigiTimes]
At least some of the iCloud account credentials that a group of hackers are holding for ransom appear to be legitimate, according to an investigation by ZDNet. A London-based group of hackers calling themselves the “Turkish Crime Family” claimed earlier this week to have gained access to millions of iCloud accounts, threatening to remotely wipe victims’ devices unless Apple paid a large ransom. While Apple later indicated that there had been no breach of its systems, analysts have suggested that the hacker group likely has data acquired from one or more breaches that occurred years ago at sites such as LinkedIn. Due to the obvious naming of iCloud accounts and the number of users who may reuse passwords, a dump of passwords stolen from another site could easily be exploited to hack at least some iCloud accounts.
As expected, Apple has opened up online orders for its new (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone SE models along with the new 9.7” iPad. It appears that the (PRODUCT)RED iPhone and iPhone SE models are available for in-store pickup at most Apple Retail Stores today, with online orders expected to arrive by the middle of next week. The new 9.7” iPad, on the other hand, does not appear to be available in stores as of yet; customers are seeing delivery dates for the new iPad into the first week in April, although stock of the new iPad will likely appear in Apple Retail stores sometime next week.